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Nurse Saves Life of Injured Motorcycle Officer

Nurse Saves Life of Injured Motorcycle Officer

Video Capture

Associated Press

July 20, 2011

CARY, NC – Traffic was thick but fluid Friday evening when Jessica Elliott saw a Cary motorcycle police officer accelerate toward the Morrisville-Carpenter Road and N.C. 55 intersection.

From three cars back, Elliott in her GMC pickup saw his life flash before her eyes in a blink.

As Officer Chad Penland sped through the intersection with sirens and lights blaring, a white pickup traveling the opposite direction turned left in front of him, she said.

The officer hit the side of the pickup face-first, was ejected from his bike, and flew 20 to 30 feet over the truck’s bed.

“I didn’t expect him to be alive after I saw what happened,” Elliott said in a phone interview Saturday. “He flipped up in the air and landed hard.”

Elliott, 37, of Lynchburg, Va., travels to North Carolina two or three times a year to visit family in Cary. She knows that traffic on Interstate 40 is heavy at rush hour, so Friday she took N.C. 55 to avoid it.

Her decision helped save Penland’s life.

Elliott, a registered nurse with 14 years experience at hospitals who is now at Hargrave Military Academy, didn’t hesitate.

She stopped her car, told her 2-year-old daughter to stay put, called 911, and ran into the road where the officer lay bloody and bruised.


“He never lost consciousness, he was just rolling around in pain,” Elliott said. “He was losing a lot of blood.”

Penland’s helmet stayed on his head, but she feared the worst. He was choking on his blood, she said.

“His airway wasn’t stable. He didn’t have an airway. He had lots of injuries to his jaw,” she said.

“He was in bad shape, really bad shape.”

Elliott said she helped him breathe by gently rolling him over so he could clear his throat. Gasoline leaked from the motorcycle.

The two stayed together, Elliott coaching the officer through his breathing.

“He asked me if he was going to die. I told him no, that we’d get through it,” she said.

Emergency medical responders arrived within minutes, Elliott said.

This weekend, Penland, 32, remained at Duke Hospital. Little information has been released about his condition. Cary spokeswoman Deanna Boone said Saturday night that he suffers from serious, non-life-threatening injuries that weren’t disclosed.

He has been with the Cary Police Department since 2003. Cary police turned investigation of the collision over to the State Highway Patrol.

The SHP identified the driver of the Dodge pickup as Benjamin Rainey, 72, of Cary. Trooper A.R. El-Amin said other details of the accident would be released later.

Elliott said Penland’s injuries were perhaps the worst she’d ever seen.

“It’s amazing that he wasn’t paralyzed or killed,” she said. “… I thought he was going to die.”

Elliott said she found little rest Friday night. The image of the injured officer stares at her when she closes her eyes.

She was back home in Lynchburg on Saturday night, thinking about the unusual circumstances that led her to the accident.

She said she never drives N.C. 55 to her brother’s house. She almost always takes I-40.

Thirty years ago, Elliott was in the car when her father, a Virginia state police officer, witnessed another motorcyclist crashing into a car. Elliott, then 7, remembers watching as her father aided the motorcyclist, who had broken his jaw and couldn’t breathe.

She said her father received an award from the Red Cross for saving the man’s life. But Elliott said she’s not a hero.

She said she just hopes people will pause and think about the odd circumstances that saved a police officer who works 130 miles away from her home.

“I don’t know what your faith is,” she said. “But I believe I was where I was for a reason.”

  • N1023300020_30025442_7610_max50


    over 2 years ago


    good job!

  • Img_1347a_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Yahweh puts us in the right place at the right time for a reason, We thank you for being there and for helping a fellow officer who was at his worst hour of need; your help should also be commended and recognized by all who reads this post and for those whom are looking for someone to call a hero. I believe your time for recognition will be eminent and forthcoming. May Yahweh shine his guiding light upon you blessing you with healthier and prosperous years ahead.

  • Untitled_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Great response to the situation, reacted well under pressure.

  • Me2_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Outstanding job! Right place at the right time.

  • Wings_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Thank you Jessica for saving our fraternal brother. We all owe you a debt of gratitute.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    Kudos to this absolutely amazes me how people are in the right place at the right time. Thoughts and prayers go out to the officer and his family...speedy recovery officer!!! And this accident proves that elderly people should not be allowed to drive unless they retake the test that new teenage drivers take. Where I live, we had a car accident where an SUV ran a stop sign and t-boned a tour bus. Both people in the SUV were pronounced DOA...The driver was 77 and his wife was the same age.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago


    There are no athiests in foxholes.......well done Ms. Elliot. Hang in there Penland.

  • Joe_portrait_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Good Job !!

  • Policememorial---a_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Prayers for a full and swift recovery for Officer Penland. Nurse Elliot, thank you for taking the time to come to the aid of our injured brother, you are definitely a hero in my book!

  • Flags_and_stars_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Outstanding job by a hero!!! Prayers for a speedy recovery.

  • Dove_over_flag_max50


    about 3 years ago


    OUTSTANDING that she happened to be on the same route, and acted to save his life. Best wishes for his complete recovery... and it again hammers home CODE 3 and intersections... take that moment to MAKE SURE the other vehicles are yielding..

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago

    Spedy recovery to the Officer. Thanks to her training and willingness to help, she saved someone's life outiside of her work place. She obviously learned from her father, by his example all those years ago.

  • White_shirt_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Great story and a true hero. Speedy recovery officer. A feel good story.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago

    God put her on that road for a reason. Horrible that it happened, but awesome that she was there. Prayers go out to both.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 3 years ago



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